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James Crombie/INPHO Shamrock Rovers and Ireland midfielder Jack Byrne.
# Pride
'People feel comfortable to come out. It’s important that you can be yourself'
Speaking at the launch of Aviva Ireland’s 2022 #LaceUpWithPride campaign, Jack Byrne believes attitudes have been changing for the better in football.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 9th 2022, 5:37 PM

JACK BYRNE HAS praised Blackpool’s Jake Daniels after he became the UK’s first male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Speaking at the launch of Aviva Ireland’s 2022 #LaceUpWithPride campaign, the Shamrock Rovers and Ireland midfielder believes attitudes have been changing for the better since he left Dublin in his mid teens to join Manchester City.

Now 26, Byrne insists any player who came out as gay in the League of Ireland would be embraced and supported in the same manner which which 17-year-old Daniel was by his own club.

“I think so, the PFA and PFAI here, they do a lot of work for this. I feel as if players, and rightly so, feel that they can be the themselves.

“We’re seeing that nowadays and even if there is abuse in the stands directed at players it is pointed out and dealt with. We find it less and less coming into football grounds and football clubs. So it’s a credit to him coming out and being himself.

“But it’s very rare being in a dressing room with 30 lads and everyone is the same. There are always lads coming from different walks of life and most of the time in the dressing room it’s acceptable to be who you are.

“Certainly, the way the world is at the moment. It’s going that way that people feel comfortable to come out and express themselves.

No matter what job you are in or the walk of life you are in, it’s important that you can be yourself and you can basically be accepted in any working environment.”

Byrne has spent the League of Ireland’s mid-season break nursing injury having suffered a knock to his knee in a win over UCD and then limped off away to Drogheda United.

It meant the Hoops playmaker was unable to take his place on Stephen Kenny’s standby list for the beginning of Ireland’s Nations League campaign, which started with back-to-back defeats against Armenia and Ukraine.

It continues with the visit of Scotland on Saturday before facing Ukraine in the Polish city of Lodz on Tuesday.

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“I was on standby and it’s obviously frustrating but there are no guarantees that I would have been called up. I wasn’t available to be on standby,” Byrne reasoned.

“It’s frustrating in general, just as well I’m not missing any league games and European games [for Rovers] because it’s a big month for us coming up and I want to be right and at my best for the club

“It’s a hard one to answer because I can’t say I would have been able to come on in any of the games or even called up,” Byrne continued. “Of course you would love to play for your country.

“I’ve played before and it’s really important to me that I can give my all and be at 100 per cent so that I can have a chance of being called up again.

“It was no forgone conclusion I would be involved this time. I was on standby. I do get the question and it’s a difficult one to answer because of course I want to be involved but I have to do my own stuff on the pitch.

“Especially now in Europe. If I do well in this it’s going to stand to me, whether that’s internationally or just for myself.”

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